Jason Pere is one of over 20 writers who contributed to the collaborative Steampunk novel, Army of Brass. The Collaborative Writing Challenge specializes in bringing together writers from all over the world to craft their tales, and Army of Brass was the 7th project. Jason’s starter chapter was chosen and shaped the entire project. He stopped by to share some insights about his experiences working collaboratively and offers some advice for new writers.
About the Collaborative Writing Challenge:
1. How did you first get involved with the CWC?
I was online one day, looking for writing gigs and I happened across an ad for a joint fiction writing venture. I responded to the post and got a message back from our fearless leader, Laura Callender explaining a little more in depth what the CWC is all about. The rest is history.
2. What is your favorite part of working collaboratively?
I only have to write one or two days a year and pick up another author credit in a traditionally published novel. That sentiment is not too much of a jest. I enjoy the low pressure atmosphere of the CWC and the fact that I get to work with a great host of other talented artists. The connections, professional working relationships and friendships that I have made as a result of the organization are a high point for me.
3. You have now had numerous chapters selected for CWC novels. Congratulations, how do you approach the task at hand, and which story did you enjoy working on the most?
First off, thank you. The challenges is never the same twice but I have some “go to” methods. Sometimes I get lucky and I just know exactly what I want to do. I will be able to sit down and pump out 2,500 words in no time. On other weeks it is not so easy. If I feel a little lost or disconnected form the story, I will scour the reference notes and chapter summaries for one hanging plot thread or something that I can strongly connect to and I will build my entire piece around that single element. I find that this happens more and more frequently as collaborative novels develop since the story naturally gravitates more towards continuity and explanation than creativity and world building in later chapters.
About Army of Brass:
4. Who is your favorite character?
Naturally, I adore the Hunter Baron. I’m the sort who feels that a story is really only as strong as the villain. They represent the heart of the main conflict in a story and without conflict you don’t have a story that anyone wants to experience.
5. You had a starter chapter selected for Army of Brass. How does it feel to watch your story unfold?
I must admit it is a grand feeling to have the collaborative team continued to gravitate towards my work. As with “Wytch Born” there is a double edged sword in play as I am a spectator to my creative brain child’s growth, On the one had there is an inevitable degree of ownership I feel and when the story takes a twist or turn that I would not have made myself or when I see a tantalizing opportunity for a plotline to be expanded upon get missed, I feel a little glum. On the other hand I am thrilled to see how other authors take the very limited framework of a story that I provided and continue to develop a rich and powerful sweeping narrative. I never hate it when there it a pleasant surprise or some ingenious story telling for me to read on a Friday when one talented author get their submission added to the text. I realize I’m not the only author with a splendid imagination.
6. Did you have much experience with Steampunk before the collaboration?
My experience with Steampunk prior to this was pretty limited. Before “Army of Brass”, the only material in the genre that I had written was a steampunk holiday themed story for a short anthology. I was a little nervous to write for a genre that I had little expertise in but I figured at the end of the day it’s still a story about heroes and villains and I can just trade the swords and sorcery that I am accustomed to for gears and cogs.
About you as a writer:
7. How often do you write?
I make a concerted effort to write every day during the week before work and on my lunch break. If I can get in at least 1,000 words a day then I am quite pleased with myself. I am a little more lax these days now that I have more books to my name and I have to split my writing time with marketing and networking but I still aim for 1,000 words each day.
8. What is your ideal setting for writing? (Quiet vs. music, coffee shop vs. home, etc.)
Clearly for creative literary pursuits, I favor my personal library that is situated between the fitness center and private theater in my luxurious gothic inspired family manor that rests comfortably in the majestic woodland along the northeastern Atlantic coastline.
Once that that stops being a dream, it will be my favorite place to create fiction. For now I will settle for my home office or kitchen table. So long as it is quiet and free of distraction I am happy to write most anywhere warm and comfortable. Oh and it has to be free form cats. I have a particularly opinionated tabby, by the name of Rilo Quigley who enjoys sprawling out on my desk and laptop whenever I try and write. For some reason he always wants me to include more felines in my work.
9. What is your favorite genre to write?
Fantasy, by far and away. I enjoy the fact that it is arguably the most imagination and least fact driven of genres. When you can just make up whatever you want for your world it really helps give you the freedom to break all the rules and get away with it. I’m in favor of all things that let a writer spend more time writing and less time researching.
10. Who is your favorite character that you’ve created?
Oh that is a hard one. It’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. In all honesty I do not think I could ever narrow it down to a single character who stands above the rest. I suppose that we can just say that I have yet to create my favorite character.
12. Are there any writers who inspire you?
I am a big fan of David Gemmell. Other than the fact that he worked predominantly in heroic fiction I love his writing for the following reasons. First he is one of the few writers that has every made me cry with a story. Second, he has a way to introduce one set of characters that you get so quickly attached to that you will become upset when he changes the scene and introduces a new set of characters, and then makes you even more attached to the new characters that you will be even more upset when the scene returns to the characters that you were introduced to first.
12 Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Sometimes I have a scene that I have difficulty producing. When that happens I just power through and pack text on the page. I don’t worry about the quality of my writing. If I’m struggling to get words out I just work on filling the page first. Once I get something written the rest of a scene becomes exponentially easier to finish. A lot of times a troubling idea might undergo a metamorphosis while I am writing and the scene may end up vastly different than my initial concept.
13. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write, write and then write some more. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s terrible just pack some text on that blank page and sort it out later. I have been in a situation where I had to write a scene that I felt totally out of my depth with and I just vomited words on paper. I felt like I was composing something that could be best described as Klingon Erotica at the time but when I came back and read it several weeks later I was very surprised at how well put together it seemed. If my “Suck it up and just do it” approach was not what you wanted to hear then I will also recommend, finding yourself a writers group. Actually I can’t recommend that enough. Having other supportive authors, writers and readers are about as essential as the alphabet for an aspiring author. Online, social media and even a good old fashion library are fantastic ways to connect with people that are probably all too willing to help make you a better writer.
15. Where can we find more of your writing?
Here are a few places you can follow my adventures and exploits.